To celebrate its 20th anniversary, Beautiful Thing will be returning to the West End this spring. Jonathan Harvey's smash hit opens on April 13 at the Arts Theatre in London and will run for six weeks before touring the UK with its finale in Brighton on June 15. The play sees actresses SurAnne Jones and Zaraah Abrahams returning to the stage, and features up and coming star Jake Davies, who is set to perform in his biggest role to date.
Corrie and Waterloo Road star Abrahams plays the role of Leah and is excited to be appearing in the West End for the first time in her career, enthusing: "It's obviously a huge difference to TV but I'm looking forward to it."
Well known for her appearance on Dancing on Ice, she is aware of what it takes to perform in front of a live audience and the pressures that come with it, and jokes: "It'll be similar to Dancing on Ice with the live audience and nerves wise. It may be a bit different as I won't have skates attached to my feet."
The play is a coming of age story about two young men finding their true sexuality. Jamie, played by Jake Davies, becomes attracted to his next door neighbour and classmate Ste. After being heavily abused by his father, Ste is offered a safe place to stay by Jamie's mother. Unaware of her son's sexuality, she tells Ste to sleep in Jamie's bed with him for a few nights. This is when Jamie and Ste's relationship begins to develop and turns into a beautiful thing.
Abnrahams is a huge fan of the story and this is one of the reasons she chose to take on the role of Leah. She explains: "I was really drawn to the fact it's a love story with young people and relationships. Whether gay or straight it doesn't matter. It's all about finding yourself and your confidence which the audience can relate to. It's a very powerful story."
Mamma Cass-obsessed Leah encourages the boys' relationship and wants them to discover their true feelings for each other. Abrahams reflects: "Well, she's a really feisty character which is really good. But at the same time there's a lot of sadness with her as well. She has a lot of depth to her which will be fun to play. Her character is larger than life."
SurAnne Jones returns to the West End to play the role of Jamie's mother after starring in the productions of Top Girls and A Few Good Men, and Abrahams is looking forward to working with her, saying: "I've worked with SurAnne Jones before on Scott and Bailey. That was a real honour. She's such a good actress. I couldn't believe it was me when I was reading the lines next to her the other day."
She's also looking forward to getting to know her other cast members and after first impressions, feels that they will all gel well together. She said: "I met all the cast at the press launch and they're lovely. There's a small cast of about five of us so I think we'll all get really close during the show."
Beautiful Thing originally premiered in 1993 at the Bush Theatre and was an instant smash hit, selling out a five-week stint there. Due to its success, the play moved to Donmar Warehouse for a month then ultimately went onto the Duke of York's, and was adapted into a film in 1996. Abrahams is now hoping that the movie will mean that new theatregoers will be enticed to see the play: "The film will bring in a younger audience, like a new generation and it's a real pleasure to be a part of that."
After the West End run, the play goes out on a UK tour, meaning that Abrahams will be back on the road as she was during The Vagina Monologues. "With that we were here, there and everywhere so it's nice to also do a tour with Beautiful Thing," she says. "I like to see the difference in audiences. We are doing Manchester, Brighton, Liverpool and Leeds. I'm really excited because I've never done The Playhouse before. I've played Brighton before and that was fantastic."
The show runs at the Arts Theatre from April 13 to May 25, and then will be at The Liverpool Playhouse from May 28 - June 1, the West Yorkshire Playhouse in Leeds from June 3 - 8 and finally in Brighton's Theatre Royal from June 10 -15.